Ralstonia solanacearum race 4 isolates were obtained from Zingiberaceae plants in India during bacterial wilt outbreaks. Polyphasic phenotypic and genotypic analysis revealed intraracial diversity and dominance of biovar 3 over biovar 4. Biovar 3 strains were isolated from very severely wilted Zingiberaceae plants in the field and found to be present across diverse geographical, host and seasonal boundaries. It was hypothesized that these isolates belong to a single, ‘fast wilting’, lineage. Using one ‘fast wilting’ isolate in controlled inoculations, rapid wilt was observed in ginger within 5–7 days. Wilting was also observed in several other closely and distantly related hosts such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), aromatic turmeric (Curcuma aromatica), black turmeric (Curcuma caesia), sand ginger (Kaempferia galanga), white turmeric (Curcuma zeodaria), awapuhi (Zingiber zerumbet), greater galangal (Alpinia galanga), globba (Globba sp.), small cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and large cardamom (Ammomum subulatum) of the Zingiberaceae family, and in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Molecular analysis, including multiplex PCR-based phylotyping, sequence analysis of 16S rDNA, 16–23S intergenic spacer and the recN gene, and multilocus sequence typing, revealed minimal differences between fast wilting isolates, confirming that almost all belong to the same lineage. Biovar 4 was isolated from plants showing slow wilt progression and self-limiting wilting in restricted geographical locations instead, and was identified to be genetically distinct from the fast wilting biovar 3 isolates. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of host range and genetic analysis of R. solanacearum race 4 in India.